Recent evidence indicates that copyright troll John Steele, of wefightpiracy aka Steele Hansmeier PLLC, is attempting to sue so many John Does at once that he and his staff are losing track of their interactions with the Does. The evidence comes from an anonymous source, who stated that he had received one of Mr. Steele's settlement letters back in late January. The letter demanded $ 2900 by Mid February. The settlement letter deadline passed and then one of Mr. Steele's associates contacted my source via phone. My source explained to Mr. Steele's associate that he has no idea what Mr. Steele is talking about and that he does not even know what Bittorrent is. Mr. Steele's associate, Mark Lutz, appears to not want to take "I am innocent and you can't have my money" for an answer. Mr. Lutz called roughly 5 times within two days and then sent an e-mail to my source. During the last call my source received, he once again said no to settling. A few weeks went by, and my source received another e-mail this time stating that Mr. Steele's firm had not been able to get in touch with him(5 calls and 2 e-mails don't count as getting in touch) but they are willing to do him the generous favor of letting him pay them $ 2900 by mid April so that my source can avoid going to court for something he did not do. Best part is, the e-mail address that his firm sent the messages to is not my source's primary address. He gave them the address during one of the calls, which proves that Mr. Steele's firm is lying about not being able to contact him
Following this awkward scenario, an e-mail was sent to Mr. Steele's jlsteele@wefightpiracy_com address(it's really a gmail account. Every e-mail address he has appears to be g-mail) which asked whether or not Mr. Steele and his associates are documenting their interactions with the accused. The message also asked why his firm is not offering payment plans if the settlement deadlines apparently do not mean anything. No response to the the initial message. Concerned that Mr. Steele may merely be overworked due to his constant porn pirate chasing, the sender decided to locate the e-mail address of Mr. Steele's partner, Paul Hansmeier: prhansmeier@gmail_com(the sender found it in the source code for wefightpiracy_com)
The original message was resent along with the following post script:
The above scenario concerns me because it appears as though your firm is only interested in extracting settlements from as many people as humanly possible rather than attempting to accurately locate and prosecute individuals involved in digital piracy. Your firm seems disinterested in the details such as whether or not you have contacted someone already or that seemingly petty issue of whether or not they are innocent. I have discussed this individual with Mr. Steele before, and he told me that if this individual claims to want to go to trial than your client believes he is bluffing. In another on-line correspondence, Mr. Steele stated that your data collection methods may be flawed but people get convicted on circumstantial evidence all the time so there is no need to worry about potentially inaccurate data. It's as though your firm wants to do everything it can, including shifting back settlement deadlines, in order to avoid judicial scrutiny. I will continue monitoring this situation by maintaining copies of this individual's phone records, e-mails, and also intend to obtain the necessary equipment to record all the calls coming from your office.
The type of response that one would respect from a respectable law firm:
We apologize, there must have been a mix up with the e-mail addresses we sent the letter to. Please tell the recipient to ignore the message, but to be aware that we intend to continue moving forward with litigation( or some variation of the same message)
Instead, there was a prompt response from Mr. Steele's wefightpiracy_com e-mail address that looked rushed(a few obvious typos) and demanded to know what role the original sender has in this litigation.(Looks like Mr. Hansmeier may be trying to be the silent partner)
The sender explained to Mr. Steele, that he was acting on behalf of several John Does who have requested assistance with learning more about Mr. Steele's firm before making a decision about settling. The Does in question stand by their innocence and consist mostly of scared parents, scared teenagers/grandchildren, computer noobs, people with unsecured wi-fi, senior citizens with little to no computer knowledge etc.
The original sender explained that he was trying to ask extremely relevant questions about Mr. Steele's firm's practices such as:
1)Do your deadlines mean anything?
2)Why no payment plans if a deadline can change?
3)Do you maintain records of who you contact, when you contact them, and how often you contact them?
4)Are you ignoring people's refusals to settle and resending letters because you are only interested in settlements?
5) What terms does your client use to identify its copyrighted videos?(many of the videos Mr. Steele is trying to "blackmail" people over are technically not copyrighted yet. His complaints state that the videos have applications pending before the copyright office)
The original sender also explained that the Does involved are financially struggling to obtain legal counsel in their respective states.
Looks like Mr. Steele doesn't like it when people ask the right questions, as his final response was that he will not discuss other people's cases with someone who contacts him anonymously supposedly on their behalf. He said that the Does should contact his office directly or they should hire an attorney(I guess he missed the part where the sender told him they can't afford one).
Typical lawyer spin, as the way the messages were worded they did not request any information about a specific individual's case. All the questions were general questions about his practice and the above scenario merely served as an intro to the points that followed. The source above was referred to only as "an individual in another state"
So it looks like Mr. Steele will never answer questions from non-attorneys or anyone who chooses to remain Anonymous
I don't think he realizes the potential problems that can arise when there is one of him and tens of thousands of Anonymous web users who are keeping an eye on his firm, especially when it's obvious he his losing track of most of his online interactions
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